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What Should You Do Before Firing a Shot From a Small Boat

Written by Anthony Roberts / Fact checked by Jonathan Larson

what should you do before firing a shot from a small boat

Have you ever wondered what should you do before firing a shot from a small boat? The first thing you should do before firing a shot from a small boat is to turn off the engine. You can then anchor or secure your boat. Stay seated to stabilize your aiming and shooting, prevent any stray bullets, and improve your safety.

It will also help if you brush up on your knowledge of hunting and boating laws. Observing other safety measures before shooting is also a must. For more details, continue reading!

What Should You Do Before Shooting From Your Boat

If you go out hunting for waterfowl using your small boat, you must turn off the motor once you arrive at your preferred spot. Drop your anchor to stabilize your watercraft, preventing you from drifting. You can also secure it by other means if you do not have an anchor.

Stabilizing your small boat is crucial for a few reasons.

First, it helps you get a better aim at your target, guaranteeing greater accuracy with each shot. After all, you will want to down a bird or any other animal without wasting ammunition.

Second, stabilizing your vessel also prevents stray bullets. There might be other hunters or people in the area. Hitting your target eliminates the ammunition striking something (or someone) else.

Third, anchoring your watercraft prevents accidents, such as falling into the water. It is always a good idea to wear a personal flotation device or life vest when hunting in the water.

What Else Should You Do


Aside from stopping your boat, killing its engine, and anchoring or securing it, there are a few things you should also observe before firing the first shot.

1. Brush up on your knowledge of local hunting rules.

Before you leave port, it would be best to familiarize yourself with your state’s hunting laws and regulations.

For example, it is illegal to pursue, catch, kill, harvest, or take wild animals and birds on Sundays in Maine. It is also unlawful to hunt when there are no clear indications of an open hunting season. You also cannot destroy birds’ nests or eggs.

Likewise, hunters in Maine cannot shoot within 100 yards of a state-owned boat launch or a privately owned building without the owner’s permission.

2. Use only lawful firearms.

Different states have specific provisions on the type of firearms you can use to hunt. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service advises waterfowl hunters to use only shotguns no bigger than a 10-gauge.

The firearm should also not hold more than three US FWS-approved shells, including tungsten-polymer, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-iron, and steel shots.

In Texas, hunters can use any lawful firearm in hunting non-migratory birds, except fully automatic weapons and muzzleloaders. You also cannot use rimfire ammunition.

3. Be seated before firing a shot.

Never shoot standing, especially on a small boat. Anchoring your watercraft can stabilize it on the water, but it can still shift from side to side with the current.

You have a much better chance of hunting game fowls sitting. It lowers your center of gravity, making you more stable when raising and aiming your firearm.

Other Safety Tips You Must Observe


Stopping your watercraft and turning off the engine are the first things you must do before firing a shot from your small water vessel. Anchoring it stabilizes your boat, while sitting balances your body and steadies your shot.

However, there are a few other things you must do whenever hunting from your small boat.

1. Check the weather before heading out.

Never assume that it will be sunny throughout the day. The sun may be shining brightly now, but everything can change in minutes.

It would be best to check weather forecasts before heading out to your hunting grounds. You might also want to bring a radio and tune in to a weather service.

I will also advise you to stay as close to the shore as possible. Should there be a sudden downpour, it will be easier for you to get to safety than if you are in the middle of the lake or far from the shore.

2. Observe boating laws.

Other people expect you to be a responsible boater and hunter. It would be wise to observe boating laws and regulations to make your boating and hunting adventures safer and more meaningful.

If you’re hunting on a river, it would be wise to pilot your boat on the starboard side. It would also be wise to signal your intention to pass other boaters if you notice any.

If there are swimmers on the water, you might want to go easy on the throttle. Your boat’s wake can pull a weak swimmer under the water.

3. Take measures to avoid swamping or capsizing your boat.

Some boats are more prone to swamping or capsizing than others. For example, a flat-bottomed Jon boat can fill with water easier and faster than other boats because of its shallow draft.

As such, it would be best to distribute your gear and other items evenly in your watercraft. It is also advisable to bring only the essentials. Crowding your boat with people or objects can increase the risk of swamping and capsizing.

If you need to bring your dog, ensure it is well-trained. An excited or anxious canine can tip your boat to one side, increasing the danger of capsizing. It would also be best to get your dog to lie down in your boat’s center.

4. Always wear a personal flotation device.

Wearing a life vest can keep you afloat if you fall into the water or your boat capsizes. The personal flotation device should also keep you warm when in the water.

Ideally, you will want to wear your PFD before you launch. Always wear it at all times during the boating-hunting trip.


Hunting ducks, other waterfowls, and other game birds is an exciting hobby for many people. The best way to go to a hunting spot is by a small boat because it is less intrusive and will not spook the prey.

However, like other boating activities, there are a few things you must observe before firing the first shot of your hunting expedition. We hope this article on what should you do before firing a shot from a small boat has informed you of them. Thanks for reading!

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